uid

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Special

Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.


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Monday, March 7, 2016

9443 - The government has introduced a bill on Aadhaar – and it is not good news - Scroll.In


Introduced as a Money Bill, it does not need the approval of the Rajya Sabha.

Anumeha Yadav  · Mar 05, 2016 · 10:30 am


For long, critics have pointed out that Aadhaar – the ambitious Unique Identification project started by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2009 – functions without a legal framework. The project, which aims to assign a biometrics-based number to every resident of India, has been controversial, with activists pointing out the dangers of collecting identification data of residents in a country that lacks a privacy law. So far, the project has been run under an executive order, which means Parliament has no oversight over it.

Finally, it seems the project might get the cover of law.

But this move has come under criticism.

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha as a Money Bill, which means it does not require the approval of the Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition is in the majority. This means the Opposition will be unable to force any amendments to the proposed legislation. Simultaneously, a previous bill, introduced in 2010, scrutinised by a standing committee, was withdrawn.
Even before the Lok Sabha debates the new bill, it has come under sharp scrutiny. 

Three questions are being asked by Opposition legislators and legal experts:

One, how justified is the move to introduce legislation on Aadhaar in the form of a Money Bill? Is this a ploy by the government to bypass the Upper House where it lacks a majority?

Two, does the bill address concerns over privacy?

Three, does the bill enable the government to make Aadhaar mandatory, overriding an order of the Supreme Court?

Debate over Money Bill

According to PRS Legislative Research, for a bill to be considered a Money Bill, it must contain provisions related only to taxation, borrowing of money by the government, expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India, and matters incidental to such taxation, expenditure and related subjects.
The government has justified the move to introduce Aadhaar as a Money Bill, citing its significance to the delivery of welfare subsidies. The bill provides that the government may make the Aadhaar number a prerequisite for receiving any “subsidies, benefits, or services” on which expenditure is from the Consolidated Fund of India.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has argued that since the monetary allocations for government subsidy schemes will be disbursed from the Consolidated Fund of India, the Aadhaar bill can be termed a Money Bill.
But Opposition leaders are unconvinced.

In an email response to Scroll.in, Lok Sabha MP Tathagata Satpathy of the Biju Janta Dal questioned the government’s argument. “There are instances of several previous legislations, brought in through the normal process, that draw from the same fund [Consolidated Fund of India]. I wonder why this bill is being treated differently,” he said.

Satpathy added that the government was circumventing the Rajya Sabha. “This is a dangerous precedent to set because, in days to come, it will enable the government to do the same for other Bills too.”

Left members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha objected to the bill too. “By no stretch of imagination can the Aadhaar Bill be termed a Money Bill,” said Brinda Karat, a Rajya Sabha member of Parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist). “It is because the government expects questions in the Rajya Sabha on it that they want to bypass the House altogether… The Speaker has a specific responsibility to prevent misuse of the clause which gives her the final say in such decisions and do what is in the interests of democracy.”

Independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, however, said if the preamble of the Aadhaar Bill was amended – making it conditional for Aadhaar to be used alongside databases such as the Below Poverty Line database – then it could qualify as a Money Bill.
The final decision over whether or not Aadhaar is a Money Bill rests with the Lok Sabha Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan.

Privacy concerns
Biometrics collected under Aadhaar include the scan of all fingerprints, face, and the iris of both eyes. The demographic information includes name, date of birth, gender, residential address. 
India does not have a comprehensive law on privacy. In the absence of this, legal experts and academics say, making Aadhaar mandatory has serious implications for the misuse of personal information and surveillance by the State.

While the government has said that the biometric information of those enrolled under Aadhaar will be safeguarded as per sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000, technology law experts say the adjudicatory system for disclosure of sensitive personal data under the IT Act has structural flaws and is not functional.

“Initial complaints for disclosure of sensitive personal data go to an adjudicating officer who is usually the IT Secretary of the state government and may not be trained in law,” said a technology lawyer. “There is no court infrastructure and no permanent seat for such cases. The appellate body, the Cyber Appellate Tribunal has not been made operational in the last three years. Hence, the civil remedies offered (in Aadhaar Bill) are at best illusionary and unenforceable.”
Section 33 of the Aadhaar Bill contains provisions for interception of Aadhaar’s demographic and core biometrics data, which will not be open to independent scrutiny. Section 33(2) permits disclosure pursuant to directions of a joint secretary in “the interest of national security,” but the phrase “national security” is undefined in the present Bill, or the General Clauses Act.
Further, the Bill contains no provisions for independent oversight, limitations on continuous surveillance, or notice to the person who is surveilled once the surveillance ceases.
Chinamayi Arun, who is executive director, Centre for Communication Governance at the National Law University Delhi said that the Bill provides very easy access to citizen information on the database to law enforcement agencies, without sufficient transparency or accountability. “It does not provide strict liability in case of a breach of information,” she said.
Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan pointed out that the Bill lacks provisions on notice to a person in case of breach of information, in case of third party use of data, or change in purpose of use of data – which were among provisions recommended by the Justice Shah Committee on Privacy in 2012 on an earlier Bill on the same Unique Identification project.
Expanding the scope of Aadhaar
While the government has stated that the aim of the Bill is to streamline government subsidies, legal experts say the phrasing in Section 7 provides for an ambit wider than government subsidies, and includes any benefits and services charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
“The Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government may, for the purpose of establishing identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from, or the receipt therefrom forms part of, the Consolidated Fund of India..”
Since the beginning of the programme in 2009, Nandan Nilekani, who led the Unique India Development Authority of India under the previous United Progressive Alliance government, had maintained that Aadhaar is voluntary. But to expand enrolment under the scheme, the United Progressive Alliance government, as well as the Modi government, pushed state governments to ask residents to produce Aadhaar cards to access various social schemes, to open bank accounts, to vote, to register a marriage, or even adopt a child.
A number of public interest writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against the coercive use of Aadhaar.
Between September 2013 and March 2015, the Supreme Court passed three orders saying the government cannot make Aadhaar mandatory and no one should be deprived of a public benefit or service for not possessing an Aadhaar number. Later, in October last year, it allowed the voluntary use of Aadhaar in seven specific schemes. The government has challenged the order.
A senior official in the cabinet secretariat overseeing the linking of Aadhaar numbers to bank accounts of beneficiaries under the direct benefits transfer scheme said: “The Supreme Court had allowed only its voluntary use in 6-7 schemes, but if everyone exercises the voluntary option, it defeats the purpose of the programme, and the new Bill will address this.”

Economist Jean Drèze, who had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court over the government seeking to make Aadhaar mandatory for MNREGA workers, said the introduction of the Bill has at least ended the pretence that Aadhaar is voluntary.
“The Aadhaar project was sold to the public as a voluntary facility,” said Drèze. “The Supreme Court sensibly ruled that this would preclude making Aadhaar compulsory for any basic services. The government has reappropriated that power under the Aadhaar Bill, ending the pretence that Aadhaar is voluntary.”

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